According to the Alzheimer Society and well documented in medical journals, persons with dementia experience memory loss, mental confusion, disorientation, impaired judgment and behavioural changes. But did you know that one of these changes may include “hoarding”? Read this fact sheet. We have summarized some key points below:
Hoarding behaviour may be harmless, but it can become a health and safety issue for the person with dementia.
There are different types of “hoarders” based on the underlying reason for hoarding. Some of these include:
- The Collectors: Some people are natural “collectors” and over the years have accumulated collections of things that are important to them. They will often have difficulty discarding these items because they may have personal significance.
- Compulsive hoarding: This type of hoarding is a specific pattern of behaviour where the person collects many items that they are not able to discard. Over time, their living areas become unsafe, cause health risks, and economic burden.
- Putting hoarding into the dementia context: Hoarding for a person with dementia stems from trying to have some control in their lives. Memory loss plays a large role in their behaviour and as a result, hoarding tends to happen in the early and middle stages of dementia.
Things to keep in mind…..
- Hoarding behaviour for the person with dementia may be harmless. Try to determine the reason for this behaviour and then provide some alternatives.
- For those who need to “look for things”, a Rummage Box might be a good alternative.
- For those who hoard because they are afraid, worried about losing control, or have forgotten how to do things, the best approach is reassurance and compassion. With their loss of memory, you will probably be dealing with hoarding issues repeatedly.
Remember, you are not alone. Reach out for help and support through your local Alzheimer Society. And here is an excellent story we just had to share – one of the lighter moments that came with Alzheimer’s and hoarding.
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